Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, November 13, 2014

Contact: Catherine Kilduff, (415) 644-8580,

Feds Reverse Course, Lift Ban on Fishing for Rare Pacific Bluefin Tuna

SAN FRANCISCO— The National Marine Fisheries Service today allowed large-scale commercial fishing for endangered Pacific bluefin tuna to continue, reversing a decision to close the fishery on Sept. 5, 2014. Pacific bluefin tuna are already in serious trouble; in July 2014, the catch exceeded limits intended to prevent international overfishing.

“Bluefin tuna have been decimated by overfishing, and the world has called in their Pacific bluefin tuna fleets — but California fishermen continue to catch endangered Pacific bluefin tuna,” said Catherine Kilduff with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Fisheries Service is supposed to protect fish on the path to extinction, not push them deeper into crisis. Yet that’s exactly what they’ve done.”

Pacific bluefin tuna have suffered a 96 percent decline since large-scale fishing began. Mexico — the only other country that fishes for Pacific bluefin tuna in the eastern Pacific Ocean — took unilateral action on July 14, 2014, to close both its commercial and recreational fisheries, a move consistent with international fishing resolutions.

“Even when faced with the complete destruction of the fishery, the Gold Rush mentality remains an unstoppable force to create more opportunities to catch bluefin tuna,” Kilduff said. “This decision to allow commercial bluefin tuna fishing to continue shows a callousness driven by profit. The cost may well be one of the ocean’s beautiful top predators. Grassroots action, including boycotting bluefin tuna entirely, may be the best hope for its existence.”

Today’s emergency rule allows commercial vessels to keep 2,204 pounds of Pacific bluefin tuna each fishing trip. The rule allows the California drift gillnet fishery — which sets mile-long nets overnight and also entangles endangered sperm whales and other marine mammals — to sell bluefin tuna caught while fishing for swordfish.

In April the Center petitioned the Fisheries Service to completely prohibit fishing of Pacific bluefin tuna because it is being fished to extinction. On Friday the Pacific Fisheries Management Council will meet to consider new regulations for the recreational fishery, but the preferred regulation is too weak and won’t implement scientists’ recommendations to end overfishing of bluefin tuna.

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The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 800,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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